What is the working landscape going to look like post-pandemic?

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As restrictions start to ease, there is a lot of discussion of what the working landscape will look like in the future. ‘Work After Lockdown’ is a major research project funded by the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC). It is part of UK Research & Innovation’s rapid response to Covid-19. The report examines how the enforced working from home in the UK since March 2020 is changing how people want to work in the future and how organisations respond.

According to the report, 73% of employees would prefer to work from home at least some of the time. Or have the option to perform specific work tasks within the home office environment. However, having spoken to a number of HR professionals in a range of companies in different sectors over the last few weeks, it appears that many employers have a different view. Some are keen to insist on a full return to the office.

The best of both worlds

Only small numbers of people would like to be back in the office full time or permanently based from home. It seems that the ideal solution for many employees would be hybrid working. This provides the discretion and flexibility to adjust the place and timing of work to enable it to fit better with everything else.

This has the potential to benefit both the employee and the company they work for. Although  ground rules need to be set. Expectations of both parties must be clearly identified and agreed from the outset.

Opening the lines of communication

It will be important over the next few months for employers to think carefully about how they approach the return to the office. If indeed that is the plan.  Consultation and communication with the wider team during this period is also highly advisable.  Many employees understandably feel that they have shown that they can work productively at home. So, an insistence that everyone needs to return to the office, with no consideration of the impact that this will have, is unlikely to go down well.

By undertaking clear and open communication, both employers and employees will be able to present their ideas and discuss the feasibility of the proposed new way of working.

An appetite for innovation

The future of the workplace is not yet determined. Employers and employees have an unprecedented opportunity to shape their prospective working relationships. By embracing change they can create an environment that is truly fit for the 21st century in terms of job and workspace design. This will ensure the needs of the company and the individual are met.